Mission: Impossible 2

Bomb Rating: 

Remember back to the first movie, and you're sure to recall the opening scene where Emilio Estevez is watching some old guy on a video monitor, the old guy turns to the camera and rips off a mask, and lo and behold, it's Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise)! That scene is relatively believable, even though it's obviously a computer effect, because we quickly assume that Ethan simply sat in a make-up chair for six hours.

Now, the gimmick they used for a laugh in the first film is used over and over again in the second film, and is integral in Ethan's escape from mad ex-agent, Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott). Once again, the opening scene involves the mask trick, then two later scenes involve the mask trick. Finally, Ethan makes a critically important transformation into another character after being blown half-way across the hall by a grenade. Literally, in about ten seconds of screen time, he's the other guy and you start to wonder: Does this little trick come in a spray or a roll-on? Where can I buy it?

Given how many times this particular brand of agent is pulling the mask stunt, you'd think Ambrose would be a little more wary, but he falls for it as does everyone else in the movie. This all takes place around a love story involving Nyah (Thandie Newton) and a deadly virus that Ambrose threatens to release on an unsuspecting Australia. As directed by John ("Face/Off") Woo, "M:I-2" couldn't have more slow motion if it were a story about mongoloid chess.

Ving Rhames is back as Luther Stickell, but he's only around to tap the keys on a laptop for a couple of seconds. As it goes on, the film relies increasingly on gimmicks and stunts that aren't plausible. Two guys flying into each other head on after jumping off motorcycles then jumping up to engage in a fist fight? Maybe after a stay in the hospital. Eventually, Ethan survives on pure luck and not much more, and despite doing his own stunts, Tom Cruise's most unbelievable stunt continues to be his success as an actor.

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